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5/29/12 8:59 P

i will try to put it in the tracker and see how it looks ...

5/29/12 5:31 P

If you are pre-planning meals, you can enter it before you eat. Or, you can enter it after you eat it and we'll be able to look at the last couple of days. From looking at what you posted, it looks to me like you don't have enough fruits and veggies in there.

5/29/12 4:54 P

basically i needed to know if i had enough variety and all the food groups... i am preparing Junes menu for the month and have 200 to spend on it for 4 people. i shop once a month for the month and this is a basic plan ... how would i put it in the food tracker before we eat it ??

5/29/12 3:35 P

You'll get much better feedback if you plug your meals into the tracker and share it. The kinds of foods you've listed are probably fine in small portions, but not ok in large quantities. Without seeing the tracker it's tough to give you quality feedback!

5/29/12 2:58 P


pancakes, corn, w/syrup, oj, coffee

breakfast burrito(egg, hashbrown, cheese, sausage, salsa,onion, sweet pepper), oj, coffee

french toast w/ syrup, oj, coffee

oatmeal w/ peach, toast w/ preserves, coffee

cornmeal mush, shredded cheese, toast w/ preserves, oj, coffee

yogurt, cheese, fruit, coffee


meatloaf, potato, green beans, muffin, tea

meatloaf sandwich, carrot sticks, ranch, applesauce,tea

egg salad sandwich, carrot sticks, ranch, applesauce,tea

tuna salad sandwich, celery sticks, ranch, peaches, tea

hamberger w/ tomato, onion & cheese, peaches, carrot sticks, ranch, tea

noodles w/ chicken breast strips & veggies, tea

pb&j sandwich, mac & cheese,tea


pinto beans w/ onions, beef cubes, hoecakes, greens, tea

bean burritos with chichen strips, cheese, salsa, fried onions, tossed salad, tea

pork chop,rice pilaf, broccoli, cauliflower, tossed salad, garlic toast,tea

black bean soup w/celery & onions green beans, corn, carrots, peas, cornmeal muffins, tea

steak & veggie stir fry over rice, tea

hamburger pinwheels, mac & cheese, broccoli, tea

red beans & rice, fried cabbage, corn bread, tea


doodle bugs, applesauce

cinnamon toast

garlic sticks,

biscuits w/ jelly

leftover muffins

peanut butter tortillas
mixed fruit
fruit salad( homemade)
veggie sticks w/ ranch

Edited by: YHWHSESTHER1 at: 5/29/2012 (15:01)
5/29/12 2:37 P

Yeah!!!!!!!!!!!!! i just checked the homeland flyer and they have a meat sale and a 10 for 10$ sale. now lets see what i can do :)

5/29/12 2:28 P

thank you for the links. i will do pretty good if i just combine the way we ate in the past month with more variety. I love the links i think i can improve this diet :) thank you everyone let me play with this some more and ill repost the changes on here

5/29/12 2:17 P

im in a relatively small town about an hour on low traffic east of Tulsa Oklahoma. Walmart and homeland are the only grocery stores we have farmers market here is about the same price as the stores and only open on Saturday morning while im at work. we also rent a house and it is in foreclosure ( sheriff sale) so gardening is not an option at the moment... cant wait till i can garden. We are looking to move to Florida so if you know of a home for rent under 600 a month with 3 bedrooms i would love to hear about it.

KFWOHLFORD SparkPoints: (3,013)
Fitness Minutes: (2,581)
Posts: 729
5/29/12 1:09 P

You seem to eat a lot of refined carbs like bread and rice. It's really not necessary to have so many of those, you really should be getting more of your carbs from fruits and vegetables.

ANARIE Posts: 13,185
5/29/12 12:54 P

It will help us if you tell us where you live. Are you in a big city or a small town? What stores can you go to? Are there any big groups of immigrants there, and do you know where they shop? What kind of transportation do you have-- is it easy to go to the store, and can you stop at more than one place without a lot of trouble?

For a while, I was living on about $50 a month for groceries. It wasn't easy, but it wasn't as hard as I expected, either. Fruit and veggies were really the easy part, because I just bought what was on special. Every week I got the sale flyers for three or four stores and looked at what produce was on sale, and I planned my meals around the vegetables, not around the meat. I have a little more money now, but I still only spend about $75 a month without even trying very hard to save.

Another thing that helps me is that I learned to find bargains in unusual places. The really expensive health food store near me always has one corner of the dairy cooler full of half-price items that are getting close to their sell-by date, for example. With coupons, I can get things for free sometimes. (Try for coupons on health-food store brands.) I also shop at the supermarkets that cater to Mexican immigrants. They have really fabulous specials on some of the basics-- 10 pounds of potatoes for $1.99, 8 pounds of onions for $1, eggs at 78 cents for a dozen and a half, 6 dozen corn tortillas for $1.50, lentils for 68 cents a pound, chicken leg quarters 49 cents a pound, and so on. You have to shop carefully and you have to know prices, because they really rip people off on things like cereal and frozen foods that aren't as familiar to them, but overall you can do very well if you pay attention.

Another place to get bargains is Target! Their store brands of whole-grain pasta and spaghetti sauce (counts as a veggie!) are dirt cheap and go on sale often. Look on low shelves for red-tag clearance prices, too. I don't know why, but they put things on clearance when they're still ages away from expiring. If you have coupons, you'll occasionally luck into something that's almost free. Read the ads from Walgreen's, too. Normally food is ridiculously expensive there, but sometimes they'll have a register rebate and you can use coupons to get a very low price on things like cereal and dried fruit. Just don't get tricked into thinking that the rebate is free money; tell yourself that you're buying the product and a gift certificate.

And finally, think about making and growing some of your own food. If you have a yard, you and the kids can dig up a corner and plant things like zucchini, swiss chard, corn, cucumber, green beans, pumpkin, watermelon and cantaloup right now. Depending on where you live, you might be able to do lettuce, beets, and carrots in the fall. Walgreens often has packets of seeds 10 for a dollar, and I'm pretty sure their regular price is 5 for a dollar.

I think you mentioned making your own bread, which is a big money saver. Yogurt is also easy to make, but whether that saves you money depends on the price you pay for milk. Sometimes store-bought plain yogurt is cheaper. You have jelly/jam on your menus a lot; is that homemade? If not, that's something that's easy to make, and if you can get someone to give you some jars or buy them at a yard sale, or else make freezer jam in plastic containers, it's cheap. And homemade preserves are something you can easily sell to friends and neighbors or at a flea market; generally people will pay twice what it cost you to make it (and friends will give you back the empty jars, which is more than half your expense.)

As for your specific menus, I agree that the best way to know if they're balanced is to set your nutrition tracker to track important nutrients like fiber, sodium, calcium, and a few vitamins, enter all of your food, and see how close you come to the recommended targets. The only thing I noticed that I would change right away is some of the meats. Bacon is really expensive per serving, and hot dogs are just pretty bad for you. Look for a sale on ham instead. It's still high in sodium but a lot lower in fat, and about half the price of bacon when you look at how many cooked servings you get out of a pound. In some cases you could even skip the meat altogether-- for example, you could make eggs and tomato or eggs with onion or mushrooms instead of bacon and eggs.

Hopefully this will give you a good start. As others have said, put all the information into your tracker to see for yourself how the nutrition stacks up.

5/29/12 12:24 P

I really feel for you. Our kids are about the same ages so I know how much they can eat. Kudos to you for making bread from is most definitely a big step up from inexpensive grocery store bread! I do the same when I need to :)

I wish I could help more. I don't have a walmart with a grocery dept around me so I'm not at all familiar with shopping there.

I totally understand how boring it can get always relying on what's most affordable. I don't think you're being negative at all. For what you're working with you're doing really well. Like I said, I can't make it work for $200. My lowest is $500/mo (I need to eat gluten-free and I generally eat grain-free and rely mostly on veggies/fruit so it's hard to get it lower).

Are there farms/farmers' markets in your area? They can be a great source of inexpensive produce...especially when there's a bumper crop of something.

TONKA14 Posts: 4,947
5/29/12 12:18 P

You have received some great feedback. Here are some articles from the site that might also help you with your meal planning.

Eating Healthy on a Budget
Save Money Without Sacrificing Quality

25 Cheap Foods that are Good for You!
Get BIG Nutrition for Less Dough

Grocery Store Steals and Tips
How to Eat Right and Save Too!

Members Share How They Save Money on Groceries
Over 30 Tips to Shrink Your Food Bill and Still Eat Well

Coach Tanya

5/29/12 12:10 P

my kids are 12 & 16 and eat like horses ( meaning i give them my food most of the time they just don't know it and when i eat a full 3 meals it is because one is at a friends house for the day/night) . as for bread i am making all bread homemade and tortillas, pastas . i also use non fat dry milk. i refuse to pay 4-5 dollars a gallon. beans we just did a whole month on kidney beans, red beans, pinto beans kind of want something different in there at least part of the time. oatmeal is a staple too for us just kind of tired of it with applesauce or my kids did preserves in it when we found some for a dollar. we do not have Costco or aldis here i would have to drive over an hour to get to one. we do have a Walmart and a homeland store. and i have been buying a lot at the dollar tree and dollar general.
budget we are on assistance that is what they give us for food 200 a month. i am looking to increase our income i am working and increasing my hours but that also means spending more in gas for transportation as i travel 3000 miles a month for work. i am open to more suggestions. and im not really trying to be negative just trying to be factual dont know a better way to word things.

5/29/12 10:36 A

I'll be honest, I don't think it's all that nutritious. I truly don't mean to be harsh but I do believe it's possible to do better...though I'm not sure $200/mo is enough to feed a family of 4 in a really healthy way. I feed a family of 4 and there's no way I could get it that low. Are your children really young? My kids are 11 and 16 and eat like adults...

You've got a lot of bread and similar in there. I'm assuming you're not buying the healthier, less processed breads that typically cost $3-4 a loaf.

We've had to really keep the grocery budget tight at times, when my husband was laid off for 6 weeks this past winter for instance, and I leaned heavily on dried beans (purchased in bulk from Indian or Mexican grocery stores...much cheaper there!), cabbage and zucchini (aldi), carrots (10lb bulk pack from costco is cheapest), potatoes and onions (aldi), bananas and apples (aldi), oats and rice (bulk pack from costco), frozen peas/corn/broccoli, natural peanut butter (costco), raisins (aldi), and whole wheat flour. And of course whatever produce aldi has on sale...they have awesome sale prices!

Breakfast ideas- muffins (homemade with very ripe fruit, leftover fruit salad, leftover oatmeal or rice pudding, shredded carrots for carrot cake muffins, maybe raisins or chocolate chips added), oatmeal with fruit or raisins, rice pudding (short grain rice cooked in milk (we use soy) with vanilla/cinnamon and either diced apples, mashed banana, or raisins...basically using up whatever is on hand, homemade granola

Lunch/dinner ideas-
soups!! soup is so inexpensive, easy to incorporate legumes, and can be really simple if you have a crock pot. great served with savory muffins made with shredded carrots/zucchini/or finely chopped broccoli/cauli (great for using up leftovers).
"taco rice"...beans, corn, diced tomato, peppers, onion with rice or quinoa and taco seasoning or "taco potatoes"....same stuff but skip rice and use to top a split baked potato or chopped roasted red potatoes
bean dips with sliced carrots/zucchini/peppers for dipping
slaws made with cabbage/carrots/onion (make with a homemade vinaigrette rather than mayo for a healthier version)
spaghetti with shredded veggies in the sauce, lentil "meat"balls
pasta salad loaded with veggies

snack ideas-
muffins again
fruit (I always buy a ton of whatever is on sale)
popcorn (air popped is super air popper quickly pays for itself)
homemade yogurt parfaits (fruit/yogurt/granola) the big container of yogurt and assemble several parfaits for a grab-and-go snack. I use 8oz mason jars for portioning things like yogurt, pudding, leftover oatmeal

I do think that it's not going to be easy with a budget of only $200/mo. If there's no way to increase that budget I'd seriously consider looking into assistance programs.

JDMAKEIT2HOT Posts: 8,458
5/29/12 8:38 A

here are some ideas for food emoticon

eggs - at walmart get the five dozen box for $7.88.very cheap and last a while. you can do so many different things!

carrots- dont buy the precut kind , they cost so much more. cut and peel them yourself.

fruits- buy whatevers cheapest. if all you can afford is bananas, then buy bananas. oranges and a certant kind of apple were on sale at my local supermarket so thats what i bought.

veggies- i buy mostly store brand frozen veggies. they are so much cheaper and will not go bad. also sometime the sundaypaper willhave a coupon for canned or frozen veggies. not often but look for them.

****if your really hurting for money you can do the dave ramsey thing and eat beans and rice, and rice and beans! dave usually he tells this to people who are is a crazy amount of debt. so that they can eat cheaply and save money to pay off debts. ill be following the beans and rice thing very soon. rice is like $1.14 a small bag that makes alot, and beans i believe are even cheaper ****

NIRERIN Posts: 14,252
5/29/12 7:14 A

here is the thing. you need to plug your days and menus into the tracker, edit the goals so you're tracking a bunch of vitamins and minerals and see where that leaves you. because without volume measurements, we know nothing about what you're eating. pancakes could be 100 cals for 2 very small ones or 1000 cals for a giant stack of them. a Tablespoon of syrup is going to be doable in most peoples' days, but two cups is not. juice would be what kind? how much? we can't know that. you do. so use the tracker. enter in what you are using and see where that leaves you in regards to calories, macros and vitamins and minerals. if what you're choosing gets you right where you should be, then those options work for you. if they don't, well, you'll be able to open up your tracker to the public and get targeted advice on what things you could change to make it better.

and frozen veggies [the non steamer kind, they have a full pound in a bag instead of 12oz] cost 20 cents per serving. so i'm not sure what or where you're trying to buy, but the plain, store brand tends to run $1 per pound.

and i just peeked at your tracker, and you really need to be accurate with what you are tracking. your homemade 248 cals biscuits have to have some carbs, some fat and some protein. so what you need to do is make sure that each ingredient that you use in those biscuits is in the tracker [either by someone else or by you] and you need to check those numbers against the ingredients you actually have in hand. if you make them the same way every time, use , which you can also find under the healthy lifestyles tab so that you can easily have the info per each.
and you have to do that with everything that you're making. we just have no idea otherwise the quantity of what you're getting and what's in it, which is what tells if you're eating balanced meals or not.

Edited by: NIRERIN at: 5/29/2012 (07:40)
CORTNEY-LEE SparkPoints: (67,852)
Fitness Minutes: (69,867)
Posts: 3,526
5/29/12 2:58 A

At Walmart, I can usually get a bag of fozen veggeis for $1 - $1.12 if I buy the Great Value brand. A lot of the time other major chain stores will put them on sale 5/$5 - always make sure you are checking the flyers.

FTSOLK Posts: 1,395
5/29/12 12:36 A

Frozen veggies tend to go on sale around here for $1 per steamer bag. A can of veggies is about the same as that, but the frozen ones are tastier AND healthier

5/29/12 12:09 A

frozen are too expensive ... wondering if they have a whole sale place for frozen foods?? we had them when i was a kid in Pennsylvania ...and at this point there is no extra for food i get food stamps and that is what i have for food.. i started working and they took my cash away and 200 of my food stamps then ssi ( main income) cut me as well by 200. so i basically get what i got before i started to work yet i feel better working my goal is to get off welfare and disability. I do use chicken when i can get it on sale. our local farmers market is mainly home canned good and most fresh is about what you pay for at the store. i am trying to get a little variety as we have been living on beans and rice this last month for most meals with canned veggies and meat(chicken, ham, tuna ) that i got at the dollar tree. they were low salt veggies and the fruit we had was tropical mixed fruit in the can in light syrup from same place. ( everything at the dollar tree is a dollar. i did make homemade breads pastas etc.
thank you for the links very interesting snacks..

Edited by: YHWHSESTHER1 at: 5/29/2012 (00:24)
DRAGONCHILDE SparkPoints: (61,313)
Fitness Minutes: (15,545)
Posts: 9,713
5/28/12 11:40 P

First, let me preface this with I am NOT a dietician... just an avid Sparker who's learned a lot about healthy living. Keep t hat in mind before you implement any of my suggestions (and you may get more who have more to say than I do.)

Let's start with breakfast. You've got a lot of good stuff; proteins and whole grains... don't be afraid to throw frozen fruit and veggies into stuff. YOu'd be surprised what you can sneak a bag of frozen spinach into. ;) Frozen vegetables are your friend... they're usually cheaper than fresh, and honestly are often just as nutritious (or even moreso) because they're flash-frozen at the site, preserving their nutrient content, while fresh can be trucked as much as 1500 miles, losing nutrients all the way. Fill your freezer to the brim with frozen foods.

Try and get whole grain stuff... the pancakes and french toast can all be made with healthier options.

Your lunches only include the carrot sticks... try to work more veggies in there. Remember the food plate! Half of every meal should be fruits and veggies. My family loves things like fresh bell peppers and zucchini noodles.

Try hitting your local farmer's market - you would be STUNNED at how awesome the deals can be. One of my personal favorites is actually eggplant mini pizzas... the recipe's on, but you don't really need one. Basically, you replace the crust with sliced eggplant, and add cheese and sauce... endlessly versatile.

Add tomatoes or other sliced veggies to your burritos.

Eggs are super versatile; you can boil them for a quick snack (my kids like them with a dash of seasoned salt), prepare them MILLIONS of ways, add them to all kinds of things for quick and easy protein.

My kids' favorite snacks are honestly raw fruits, more often than not. FRuits, veggies, etc.

Here's some more healthy, cheap suggestions:

I know how tough it can be to prepare meals on a budget... good food is NOT cheap. If I were you, I would try and figure out how to make your budget stretch by cutting things like the the garlic sticks and cinnamon toast and spending those calorie/dollars on whole foods. Stay out of the middle of the grocery store, and aim for the freezers, the dairy, and the meats. Boneless skinless chicken is expensive, but if you can catch whole (or even cut up) chicken on sale, you can replace those hotdogs with leaner, healthier meat.

Edited by: DRAGONCHILDE at: 5/28/2012 (23:44)
5/28/12 11:24 P

no sugar in the tea and a little in the coffee ( im in process of removing sugar from coffee). this is for the family not just me( i use only the mayo and once in a while ranch ) the rest goes to kids and fience... trying to make it balanced and affordable how can i incorporate more veggies? do you mean variety of vegetables or not enough vegetables? do you know of better cheap snacks ? ( $200 dollars if for the month for all of us including me taking stuff to work)

DRAGONCHILDE SparkPoints: (61,313)
Fitness Minutes: (15,545)
Posts: 9,713
5/28/12 11:16 P

Just at a quick glance, your meals seem very heavy on condiments (dressing, syrup, etc) and light on veggies. At least half of your intake should be vegetables. All of those condiments (I assume there will be ketchup, mustard, mayo, etc) really, really add up to a serious caloric punch.

Is all of that tea sweetened? That sugar can add up quickly.

The snacks you've got listed are all pretty much empty calories; garlic sticks, bread, and tortillas. I see almost nothing with whole grains. It's all refined carbs and fried sides.

It's a good start, since you can lose weight on just about any meal as long as you keep portions under control. What matters is how much of it you eat, although quality is important.

5/28/12 11:13 P

yes its a holiday but i have posted before with no answers for two weeks... just frustrated and feel like there is no one anywhere that really gives a care not just this site but others as well ...
ty though for the reminder and sorry for being B*****Y tired frustrated and refusing to give up no matter what

Edited by: YHWHSESTHER1 at: 5/28/2012 (23:14)
DRAGONCHILDE SparkPoints: (61,313)
Fitness Minutes: (15,545)
Posts: 9,713
5/28/12 11:10 P

It's a holiday weekend right now, so there aren't many people around. Try to have some patience; people will be in eventually to help you. Many people are celebrating Memorial Day with their families, traveling, etc.

5/28/12 10:59 P

if you cant answer do you know where i can find the answer??? even i dont know is better than feeling like you are being ignored.

5/28/12 8:46 P

is this a balanced diet in food choices ... am on a limited food budget and all this will be homemade not boxed, fruit will be canned in own juice. i am trying to feed 4 people on 200 a month and still be healthy and loose weight. this is one weeks menu sort of ... it cost 70 a week yet we make it last 2 weeks. any ideas how to make it better and still be under 200 a month ????


pancakes w/ syrup, juice, coffee

bacon, eggs, biscuits, juice, coffee

french toast w/ syrup, juice, coffee

oatmeal w/ fruit, toastw/ jelly, coffee

cornmeal mush, shredded cheese, toast w/ jelly, juice, coffee

yogurt, cheese, fruit, coffee


meatloaf, potato, green beans, muffin, tea

meatloaf sandwich, carrot sticks, ranch, applesauce,tea

egg salad sandwich, carrot sticks, ranch, applesauce,tea

tuna salad sandwich, celery sticks, ranch, peaches, tea

bacon & egg sandwich, peaches, carrot sticks, ranch, tea

noodles w/ hotdogs & veggies, tea

pb&j sandwich, mac & cheese,tea


pinto beans w/ onions, hoecakes, greens, tea

bean burritos, fried onions, tea

creamed tuna & peas over rice, garlic toast,tea

black bean soup w/celery & onions, cornmeal muffins, tea

hot dog & veggie stir fry over rice, tea

hamburger pinwheels, mac & cheese, broccoli, tea

red beans & rice, fried cabbage, corn bread, tea


doodle bugs, applesauce

cinnamon toast

garlic sticks,

biscuits w/ jelly

leftover muffins

peanut butter tortillas

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